Saturday, June 23, 2012

DC, Reading, a Cruise...and more running

Three+ weeks off...really needed it, I think. Whether you've ever written or not, you do need time to recharge those batteries and I got it. Honestly, I could write several chapters over the last 3 weeks but I won't bore you...instead, I'll stick to my handy-dandy bullet format. Nice and easy and I can share the biggest amount in your shortest amount of time available. Nice, eh?!

Bermuda Sunset at the pier
- 8 day cruise to Bermuda, Boston, and Newport, RI done. I think that was our 7th cruise since we got married nearly 20 years ago. Things certainly have changed over that time and it absolutely, positively matters where you sail out of. We sailed from Baltimore, MD instead of the normal Florida sailing into the Caribbean. Among the many things we learned: 1) it's amazing how angry and bitter so many people can be on vacation. 2) Even more so, it's amazing how people's manners are left ashore (if they even have any). 3) If you're a single guy/gal looking for eye-candy, don't sail on a ship out of Baltimore. 'nuf said. 4) Just because you're going to Bermuda, it doesn't guarantee hot, sunny days. We had one overcast day with a cool breeze and the second day ended with us running in a torrential downpour. (that was actually one of our highlights) 5) WAY better times can be had never purchasing an overpriced excursion and simply getting out there and exploring. 6) Many times I felt like I was on a cruise for the National Association of Nursing Homes...if there is such a thing. 7) Some of the most amazing sunsets and sunrises are had at sea. 8) Running 20 miles on the top of a cruise ship IS possible. (June 21st = 80 laps = 20 miles) 9) You can fry just about anything...and everyone will eat it. 10) I slept more this week that a month back home...combined. 11) I am perfectly happy just "being" with my wife...no matter what we are doing. 12) I will never volunteer for the "Love and Marriage" show...an outtake of the popular Newlywed Game show from the 80s. 13) Everyone has a mirror in their stateroom. Please use it and make decisions not just for yourself but on behalf of fellow cruisers. 14) Scandinavian women's hair look like butter. 15) Boston is awesome. We MUST go back and explore more. 16) If ever given the opportunity to go back on active duty and be stationed at Naval Station Newport, I will JUMP at the opportunity. 17) Cake vodka? Yep...that with pineapple juice created my favorite cake...the pineapple upside down cake....well sorta. :-) 18) I'll never get tired of playing rummy for hours with my bride...and beating her silly. 19) Just because food is served 21.458 hours per day, doesn't mean you need to eat 21.458 times. 20) You really don't need to gain weight on a cruise. An endless supply of fresh cut fruit and salad ingredients made some really yummy meals! 21) It'll be awhile till we cruise again. Wilderness, solitude, and family are in our future.

Front door of the Supreme Court
- Prior to our 8 day cruise, we took 4 days and as a family, devoted it to visiting our nation's capital. We did it cheaply, too. We got a hotel just inside the beltway in Maryland, used points for one free night stay then prepaid the other two nights for significant discounts, then used the train system for all transportation. We never moved our car until we left for home. Debt-free vacationing is AWESOME! Our girls were real troopers, too, with miles of walking in 90+ degree heat. They had a great time and hardly a shred of complaining.

- I'm currently reading Scott Jurek's new book, Eat & Run. Scott is a 7-time straight champion of the Western States Endurance Run, which is actually being run as I type. Western States is basically the Super Bowl of 100 mile races out in California.  His new book is basically autobiography meets vegan recipes meets running advice meets inspiration. It's very interesting and both my wife and I are working our way through it. Prior to DC, I received an advanced copy of it due to my sponsorship with Brooks (he is sponsored by Brooks) and in it was his book tour schedule where he was doing group runs in city after city then having talks and book signings. Well, he was slated to be in DC when we were! So, on our first day, I wore my running gear all day and went out to Arlington, VA and was able to run with him. I did get him for a few minutes during the 3+ mile run. I did my best to recruit him to our trail running hotbed but he clearly loves the high elevation runs out west...but does plan to retire in less than two years from professional running when we wants to run some midwest 100s "for fun." Yea, right! Here's where he signed my copy of his book.

Scott and I post-run and my signed copy of his book. :-)))
- 80 laps aboard a ship? Yep. Well, it kinda went like this: "Running" woke me up at 4:22am. Yes "it" did. I kissed her good morning (that kiss represents a promise to each other every morning and NEVER do I get up without doing it.) and told her "don't ask what time it is...I'm going running." By 5:03am, I was running...topside, Deck 10, on a steel deck in minimalist Brooks Pure Connects, on a 1/4 mile oval...camera ready for sunrise. Honestly, I had no intention of running more than 6 but as I progressed, it felt effortless, I was alone, and I figured that she was still sleeping so why not keep running??? I had no food or fuel to speak of...just an empty cup for water. So, every 6 miles, I stopped and refilled the cup, went to the bathroom, and kept on going. I had a mantra and ritual I'd do each lap to keep track of my progress since one could lose their mind keeping track of this. A little over 3 hours later, I finished and called down to our stateroom and I'm thinking I woke her up (she still denies this!) and asked if she was ready for breakfast because I sure was. 20 miles done....at sea!
The beginning of June 21st

A little bit later after the sun cracked the horizon

Gorgeous, isn't it? Too bad I was nearly the only one onboard who saw it.
- Speaking of running, this time next week I will be about 90 miles to my northeast in northwest PA. I'm running my first timed race...a 12 hour trail race. It'll be on a 5 mile loop around a lake in a park. Basically, I just run for as long as I want and hopefully, for 12 hours, and see how far I can go. "Why?" you ask? Because I can. I honestly can't wait to go. It's been awhile since I pinned on a bib number.

- Speaking more of running: the 100 mile bug is nippin' at my heels again. I will reevaluate how true that nibble is after next week's 12 hour trail race. I don't have a particular one in mind...some ideas, but no details yet. I want to know if this desire is valid and next Saturday will help me make a sound decision. If I do, I will train very differently this time around and how I organize my training will be overhauled.

- My favorite quote so far from Scott Jurek's book is "Sometimes you just do things." His dad used to say it to him when Scott (as a kid) would ask the "why" of doing something. His dad simply replied "Sometimes you just do things." That stuck in his head as he ran, ran, and ran some more and pushed himself to crazy limits. I love it and it really explains much of why I run. Yea, it doesn't explain JACK but that's the point! There isn't an explanation. "Sometimes, I just do things." ~ Me.

- Under favorite posts over on the right, there is a link to the 7 Baby Steps to getting out of debt. There are some of you out there who read this who are doing just that or have arrived. This cruise was the first one we took debt free. Paid for in full (not on a credit card) before we went and every cent paid for in cash. We owe nobody a cent. We haven't had a credit card in almost 2 years now and have no intention of ever going back. We are proving it can be done, especially when my wife is off all summer and not working. Keys to success? A written plan (budget), teamwork with your spouse, and sticking to that written plan. We're not debt free completely...we still owe on our home and nothing else, but we re-financed that from 30 to 15 years and pay more on every payment to principal. We believe we can do it in 10 years, though...and we will. No better time to start than TODAY!

That's enough for now. I could go on but the evening is growing old, the sun is lowering, and family time is at the ready. I'll do my best to start writing again...I really do miss it.

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